Scarlet Spy joins a Longevity Retreat

May 21 2024

Scarlet Spy


5 min read

From feeding her microbiome and lifting weights to setting boundaries and cultivating a tribe, Scarlet Spy escapes to Goodwood’s Active Longevity Retreat Active Longevity Retreat in West Sussex to reduce her biological age and learn how to grow old vibrantly

So, what exactly is Longevity?

Longevity is the wellness de jour that everyone’s talking about. But what exactly is it? According to Celebrity Nutritionist and queen of all-things Gut Health Stephanie Moore (pictured above) “it’s the dietary and lifestyle interventions that have been shown to support our biology in the process of vital and active longevity, allowing us to maximise our healthy years.”

Rather than focusing on the years in our lifespan, active longevity focuses on the quality of life in our years, meaning our biological age, our health, energy and outlook on life is younger than our chronological age, i.e. the actual age we are in years.’

My retreat check-in results showed a biological age of 46; I’m 43, so I obviously have some work to do...

Why is it so relevant now?

New statistics from The Longevity Imperative, by Andrew Scott of London Business School, shows how our lifespans have altered significantly in the past 60 years; in the UK in 1965, the most common age of death was (sadly) in the first year of life. Fast forward to today and the most common age to die is 87.

In 1990 there were only 95,000 people over 100 in the world. Today, there are over half a million, and rising. Scott observes that we need to rethink old age as individuals and societies and not shuffle a huge proportion of society into the ‘old age’ bracket.

Inspired by the Blue Zones

During a 20-year study, National Geographic Fellow and New York Times Best Selling Author Dan Buettner discovered five places across the globe - Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California – that had the healthiest, longest-living, vibrant populations. Sardinia is home to the greatest concentration of male centenarians in the world, while females over 70 in Japan are the longest-lived population in the world.

The study assembled a team of medical researchers, anthropologists, demographers, and epidemiologists and found nine evidence-based common denominators among all Blue Zone destinations. Named the Power 9, these longevity hacks include: Move Naturally, Purpose (Ikigai), Downshift, 80% rule, Plant Slant, Wine at 5 (yep, you heard that right), Belong, Loved ones First and Right Tribe.

Tell me about Goodwood’s Active Longevity Retreat

Goodwood’s’ Active Longevity Retreat is created around an easily digestible seven pillars of living well. The five-day wellness retreat focuses on how to slow down our biological clock by bolstering our health with several hacks and habit changes. The goal: to live a full and vibrant life, maximise your healthy years and embrace pro-ageing.

Expect expert talks on gut health, stress management and the power of connection. You’ll have two fasting days where you’ll eat a nutritious lunch and sip bone broth for dinner; the rest of time you’ll feast on three protein-rich meals – leaving you wondering how you ever had room for snacks.

Along with a fun cooking workshop with Goodwood's Executive Chef, Mike Watts, you’ll be booked in for some heavenly treatments – cranial osteopathy, reflexology or energy healing, anyone? Plus, yoga, gong baths (with the incredible Ram-Inder Rai) and sunset walks around the Goodwood Estate. Any gaps in your chockful itinerary can be filled with a relaxing swim, a nap or just stop and (gulp) rest.

Top three take-homes…

Look after your gut microbiome

This is a big one. Up to 70 trillion non-human cells (gut microbes: bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc) live within our GI tract; 70% of our immune system can be found here too. Our digestive tract is where we absorb nutrients and eliminate toxins; any damage to the gut lining can cause leaky gut and an inflammatory response in the body.

Fascinatingly, your gut and brain are connected physically through millions of nerves (the gut-brain axis), most importantly the vagus nerve. Emerging evidence suggests that imbalances in the gut microbiota can disrupt the communication and potentially lead to mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression.

The best way to support your gut health? The 3Fs: fibre, ferments and fasting. Fibre fuels your gut microbiome, so feast on wide range of plant foods: vegetables, fruit, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds; add fermented foods to your shopping list - live yoghurt kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and apple cider vinegar (from the mother) - as these contain a range of live microbes to keep your gut happy; the more diverse the microbes you house, the better.

Stay active

There are three types of exercise you need to stay ship-shape as you age: weightlifting, to build that oh-so-important muscle; springy plyometrics exercise – try a rebounder session - to increase strength and power, while aiding lymphatic flow; and HIIT (high-intensity interval training) to get the heart pumping.

Walking should also be high on the agenda; a recent study by JAMA Neurology of over 78,000 healthy people with average age of 68 found that those walking 9,800 steps daily had a 51% lower risk of dementia.

The Tribe Effect

Community is everything. Out of all the useful nuggets we were given, this one - from Ayurvedic Practitioner Dr Sam Watts (pictured above) - really struck a chord. Having a tribe – family, friends, colleagues – to lean on and share life with is a genetically driven gateway to health and longevity. Over 90% of our genetic drivers are unchanged since the Palaeolithic period, when being part of a community of hunter/gatherers insured a much better chance of survival.

Over 25 years of research now supports the view that social support outperforms all over variables, including smoking, dietary and exercise status – as a predictor of health and longevity.

So, schedule in some quality time with your people – what are you waiting for?

How did it measure up?

As a woman in her early 40s (hello perimenopause) - juggling a full-time job, kids, dogs - plus a gold level Sandwich Generation membership – taking five whole days to myself was the just the reset I needed. I relished it.

By day five of eating well, staying hydrated and undertaking an array of holistic and detoxing treatments, I was positively glowing - not just my skin (you can read about my Grown Alchemist Regenerating Facial here) but from the inside out.

Beyond the wonderful physical wins - including a 6Ib weight loss – I left Goodwood feeling serene, grounded and empowered, with a whole bunch of easily implementable hacks to continue in the real world.

Connecting with a tribe of like-minded women – all varying in age and from different walks of life – was an absolute highlight, as was being gentle and reconnecting with myself. If I’m fortunate enough to live a long, healthy and vibrant life, this is a good place to start.


Scarlet Spy

21st May 2024

Spy Likes:

Nature-inspired spas, cold water plunges, sound baths, deep tissue massage, delicious food.

Spy Dislikes:

Thin walls in treatment rooms, lounger hoggers, soggy robes, bright lights.

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